If you are pregnant and have not experienced the alleged “glow” that is supposed to come with this special time in your life, then you are certainly not alone. Every woman’s experience is unique, and there is no way to tell beforehand which symptoms you will experience. Because of the major changes in hormones that come along with pregnancy, many women go through major changes to their skin, resulting in a variety of issues that can be frustrating, disheartening, and uncomfortable. So what are some of the skin problems that can surface during pregnancy, and how can you deal with them?
Also known as “the mask of pregnancy,” melasma is a type of brown discoloration that appears on the face in patches during pregnancy. It is more common in women with dark skin. Hyperpigmentation such as this affects a surprising number of pregnant women and may or may not resolve itself once hormones have normalized. Sunlight may exacerbate the condition, so be sure to practice good sun protection during pregnancy.
Acne is not a skin problem that only affects teenagers—it can occur at any stage of life, particularly when significant changes in hormones occur, such as during pregnancy. Unfortunately, pregnancy-related acne can be fairly unpredictable and difficult to control, so expectant moms often just have to weather the storm. Prescription acne medications are usually off-limits (especially Accutane), but natural remedies like tea tree oil are generally safe during pregnancy.
Changes in hormones, weight gain from pregnancy, and other factors contribute to formation of spider veins during pregnancy, often on the face. Unfortunately, these vessels can be persistent, and may require treatment following pregnancy.
Stretch marks are extremely common and most pregnant women experience at least a few. Their development is largely genetic, but you can help prevent stretch marks by being diligent with exfoliation and deep moisturizing.
Is Treatment Safe?
Because there is no data available about how many popular treatments affect pregnancy, many of the potential treatments for these problems must wait until after the baby is born. Some skin issues will resolve themselves over time following pregnancy, so it may be best to wait a few months postpartum to see if positive changes occur in your complexion naturally. If not, there are several safe skin treatment options for some skin problems.
Types of Treatment
If you are interested in postpartum professional skin treatments, here are some procedures to consider:
Pulsed Dye Laser
Used for spider veins and broken blood vessels, pulsed dye lasers are usually somewhat stronger than lasers used for pigmentation issues. One of the important prerequisites for pulsed dye treatments is that the skin not be tanned prior to treatment, as this can result in pigment changes or scarring. No anesthesia is required for treatment, and only a brief downtime is expected. Some swelling or discoloration may be present for up to two weeks following treatment.
Plasma Skin Resurfacing
A stronger resurfacing option, plasma resurfacing may be a good option for some patients with melasma. Nitrogen plasma spray is used to heat the deep layers of skin that encourages the skin to peel and new collagen to form. This results in overall skin quality improvement and a youthful, healthy glow. Depending on the treatment options the patient selects, one or more treatments may be performed, resulting in a few days of downtime and skin peeling. Most of the signs of treatment should resolve within 10 days, and improvement can continue for up to a year.
Professional Skincare Products
For those who want to try solving skin problems with a non-invasive treatment, many plastic surgeons offer high-quality prescription skincare lines, such as the ZO Skincare System, a comprehensive plan supervised by a doctor and offering improvement in common skin issues such as unwanted pigmentation, minor signs of aging, and acne. The treatment is tailored to the patient and adjusted if necessary.
Prevention and Home Care
Naturally, it is a good idea to do as much as you can to prevent skin problems at home as they come up during your pregnancy. Just be careful to choose your products with you and your baby’s safety in mind, and when in doubt, skip a product or ask your doctor for advice. For problems like acne, avoid harsh chemicals, and instead choose natural products.
When You Are Ready
If you find that these skin problems are not going away after you have had your baby, then it may be time to seek some professional treatments to get your skin back on track. Only a board certified facial plastic surgeon can help you determine which treatment is right for you, so choose your provider wisely.
If you need help with skin treatments in Massachusetts, come to Bentkover Facial Plastic Surgery and Laser Center in Worcester (508-363-6500) or Stoneham (617-247-0033) to meet with acclaimed specialist Dr. Stuart Bentkover. Dr. Bentkover has been providing patients with great results from laser procedures, chemical peels, and more for over 20 years. Call either location today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Bentkover.